This book offers a concise but comprehensive introduction to desert ecology and adopts a strong evolutionary focus. As with other titles in the Biology of Habitats Series, the emphasis in the book is on the organisms that dominate this harsh environment, although theoretical and experimental aspects are also discussed. In this updated second edition, there is a greater focus on the effects of climate change and some of its likely effects on deserts, seeing
desertification as among the most serious results of climate change, leading ultimately to the increasing size of arid and semi-arid regions.
The Biology of Deserts Second Edition includes a wide range of ecological and evolutionary issues including morphological and physiological adaptations of desert plants and animals, species interactions, the importance of predation and parasitism, food webs, biodiversity, and conservation. It features a balance of plant and animal (both invertebrate and vertebrate) examples, and also emphasizes topical applied issues such as desertification and invasive species. The book concludes by
considering the positive aspects of desert conservation.
This accessible textbook is intended for senior undergraduate and graduate students, as well as professional ecologists, conservation practitioners, and resource managers working in the field of desert ecology.
David Ward is Art and Margaret Herrick Endowed Professor of Plant Biology at Kent State University. His research interests lie in the field of the ecology of plant species redistributions. This includes studying both invasive and encroaching plant species. He is also interested in studying the natural process of succession. Most of his research involves trees but he also studies the effects of herbivory by large mammals (such as elephants) on the population biology, community ecology and conservation of plant populations. He believes in the value of field experiments to allow us to gain a mechanistic understanding of the factors that create large-scale vegetation patterns.
1: Introduction 2: Abiotic factors 3: Morphological and physiological adaptations of desert plants to the abiotic environment 4: Morphological, physiological, and behavioural adaptations of desert animals to the abiotic environment 5: The role of competition and facilitation in structuring desert communities 6: The importance of predation and parasitism 7: Plant-animal interactions in deserts 8: Desert food webs and ecosystem ecology 9: Biodiversity and biogeography of deserts 10: Human impacts and desertification 11: Conservation of deserts